“The Command of Salvation”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Apostles Peter and John stood before the religious rulers of Israel in Jerusalem. They were called before these leaders because many people were being saved by God’s grace through the preaching of the word in concert with the Holy Spirit. The Jewish leaders wanted to know by what power or name the Apostles were speaking.
With great courage and boldness, Peter and John told the leaders that they were preaching by the name of Jesus who was crucified by the insistence of these leaders. The Apostles continued speaking and made this declaration. “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12
Notice the word “must” used by Luke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is commanded by God! There is no other name but the name of Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. Receiving the gospel is commanded. The gospel is not optional. The gospel is central not because of some idea of sentimentalism but because it is God’s command issued to all men to escape God’s wrath.
We know that the Bible teaches that salvation is to be saved by God from God. That is, we are delivered from the wrath of God by the sovereign act of God. In saving men and women God does not simply excuse sin. Sin had to be paid for. The only means of payment was the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The weight of the Apostles’ declaration is beyond what men can bear. The weight is the full wrath of God. Those who disobey God’s command to believe in the gospel will indeed experience the horror of God’s wrath for their sin.
Another aspect of the command to believe in the gospel is that God is not wringing His hands in heaven hoping that men will believe in His gospel. No! Those for whom Jesus died will obey His command. The payment for sin was actually and really made on Calvary. Jesus’ payment for sin was not dependent upon men accepting it. Jesus died for specific people. He died for those whom God chose before the world began, Ephesians 1:4.
So central is the gospel of God that Jesus began His public ministry with these words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15
The Apostle Paul in writing to believers declared that the gospel is the power of God for salvation, Romans 1:16. He also told the believers in Corinth that those who were being saved stood in the gospel, 1Corinthians 15:1.
Obeying God’s command to believe in the gospel is not only a guarantee of heaven. Salvation is deliverance. When God breaks into a man’s life, He frees him from the bondage of sin. Those in Christ are set free to love God! Salvation begins when God declares a sinner right with Him. It continues throughout life and is consummated in glory. All of what God has done for us is in and through the gospel.
Jesus’ command was very specific. It centered on God’s rule and the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16b. The gospel is the only means God has given for men and women to know Christ and have eternal life.
The good news, the gospel is: Christ died for the sins of His people, He was buried and He was raised from the dead all in accordance with the Scriptures, 1Corinthians 15:3-4. This is good news because we all deserve to go to hell. But, God who is “rich in mercy”, Ephesians 2:4, chose some for heaven. God’s power is revealed in the gospel. It causes men and women to rely upon the perfect righteousness of Christ. The Christian’s reliance upon Christ is by the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is good news because God applies it to those whom He has chosen. The gospel is God’s power to save! Have you obeyed God’s command?